San Francisco's homeless population has remained steady since 2013

San Francisco has wrapped up one phase of its regular count of the city's homeless population. Volunteers flooded the city last Thursday for a point in time count to get an accurate snapshot of what the city's homeless population is at the moment. 

"This data is used locally, it's almost like a report card," said Randy Quezada from the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. "This is the number that whenever anyone says on any given night we see X number of people experiencing homelessness, this is where that number comes from."

The city takes this count every two years as mandated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Volunteers went through every block of the city, every shelter and checked through the city's transit system, trying to get an accurate count of how many in the city are currently homeless.

Now that the initial count has been completed, the next phase of the count is getting underway. A survey program aimed at getting important data about the city's homeless, includes everything from determining how many newly homeless there are, to determining the health problems the city's homeless face. All that data is then turned over to the federal government and used locally to help set policy.

The homeless count could come into play as the city's considers everything from Prop C, aimed at taxing big business in the city to help pay for homeless services to the city's unexpected windfall that the mayor wants to use to battle homelessness.

"We use this data and these numbers through the PIT count to inform our policies, to inform our practices but it will be uses as part of the larger picture that we're forming," said Quezada.

The count from this month isn't going to be fully tabulated until the middle of this year.

The city's homeless population has remained frustratingly steady over the last six years; with between 7,300 and 7,500 hundred homeless people on the streets and in shelters around the city.